A/N: I got this idea last night so I started writing it and finished the first chapter this morning. What I'm saying is that it's probably bad, not to mention unedited. Just a little warning. On top of that, I haven't written anything but essays for the past two months so...

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, and I do not.


Chapter One: Hung In a Bad Place

Click.

Click.

Click.

I raise my eyes to the ceiling and pull my fingers through my hair. I figure I'm going to go bald very soon at the rate I've been tugging at the mess on my head. I'm sure random strands of it are all over the house.

Click.

Click.

Click.

It never ends. I can never get away from the noise.

Click.

Click.

"Anthony!" I hate yelling but sometimes I have to. Not that it matters, not that he'll remember. "Can you please stop clicking the pen? You're giving me a headache, kid."

With eyes widened from the harsh tone of my voice, Anthony looks as if he is on the brink of tears as he sets the pen on the kitchen table. "Daddy?" he says, sadness lacing his voice. "Are you mad at me?"

I sigh and shake my head. Looking back to him, I say, "Come here for a second." Once Anthony has scampered over to me, I see yet again the pain in his eyes. It's always like this, and every time I see it, the guilt and despondency starts to become too much for me. When he is within arm's reach of me, I place my hands on his shoulders. "No, Anthony," I answer his previous question. "I'm not mad at you. I'm never mad at you." Just at myself.

He nods, a smile reaching his face, his calmness returning, and sits back on the floor like he was before. Instead of picking the pen back up, he finds his coloring book from the day before in the same place he left it and busies himself with that, not bothering to color inside the lines. He's always doing something. Sometimes it's very annoying but I know he can't help it. It's just who he is.

I cannot stop myself from sighing again. It is the same pattern every day, sometimes multiple times a day. The more that I think about it, the more I realize that it's rare when it only happens once.

Our lives had been like this for as long as I could remember. I always figured that raising a kid was hard. Raising one alone was bad. This was made worse when that child has special needs. While Anthony did not have an extreme case of autism, it was still obvious that he was different. He could speak well, move well, but his mind…He may have been ten years old but he still had the mind of a boy much younger.

I look at my watch, then put my head in my hands. It's eleven o'clock, and I haven't gotten anything done. While I was occasionally thankful that my job as a writer allowed me the liberty to stay at home, I often times found myself more annoyed than anything since it was futile trying to finish anything during the summer when Anthony has no school and is home every day.

"Daddy?"

I lift my head to see Anthony staring back at me. "Yeah?"

"I'm hungry."

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "You're always hungry," I reply but still get up to look in the cupboards, the fridge. To my dismay, there is nothing of real substance in the kitchen. I walk back into the living room where Anthony is still standing. "So…we're kind of out of food right now."

"Oh." That sadness is back.

"But do you know what that means?" When he shakes his head at me, I say, "That means we can go to McDonald's."

Anthony gasps and breaks out into a grin. "Does that mean I can get a Happy Meal? With a toy?"

"Yes, but on one condition," I say, my voice turning grave.

"What is it?" He eyes me up suspiciously.

I make my tone as menacing as I can. "You have to go grocery shopping with me afterward."

He nods his head up and down repeatedly, his smile still in place. "Okay!" He bounds over to me, nearly knocking me over with the force, and grabs hold of me, hugging me tightly. "Thank you, Daddy."

His happiness is contagious as I feel my own smile growing. I put my arms around him and return his embrace. "No problem, buddy."

No matter how annoyed or frustrated I get with him, this is what makes it worth it. Something so simple gives him such joy, and knowing I contributed to that joy makes everything worthwhile.

Too soon, he releases me but then quickly grabs hold of my hand, tugging me toward the front door. "Come on," he says. "Let's go!"

-x-

In the car, Anthony does not stop talking.

"Daddy, what kind of toy do you think I'll get? What's on your grocery list? Daddy, you're driving too slow. The other drivers will be mad. Daddy, that man passing us had his hand up but I only saw his middle finger. Who waves like that?"

I could not decide if I am amused or aggravated by his constant chatter, though I must admit I am glad when I finally get to McDonald's. Maybe with some food in him, Anthony will calm down a bit.

Of course, I know I'm wrong.

We walk into the fast food place. Well, really, I walk but Anthony runs. We are stuck behind three other people in line and he grows very impatient.

"Daddy, why can't I just order my food now?"

"Because these people were here first," I explain. "Now hush."

For Anthony, it seems like forever until it is our turn to order. He knows exactly what he wants and orders his Happy Meal right away. I order a burger and a small fry with a Coke before Anthony scurries to a booth, tray in hand. I turn back to the cashier with a smile as I take my food.

When I arrive at the table Anthony picked out, I see him analyzing his toy. "What do you got there?" I ask him.

"It's a Captain America action figure! Look!" he says, shoving it my way.

I take it in my hands and look at it. "Wow. Very cool. I guess I should have ordered a Happy Meal, too."

Anthony just giggles at me and snatches the figure out of my hands, hugging it possessively to his chest. "Well, this is mine so get your own."

I smirk at him and put my hands up in surrender. "Okay, kiddo, I won't touch it again."

Complacent, he nods. "Good." He then begins to eat so I take it as my cue to do the same.

By the time he is finished eating, I had been done for several minutes. He looks to me and says, "Daddy, can I go in the playroom?"

I look behind him to the play area he is speaking of. The oldest kid I see in there is probably in first grade. I smile sadly at Anthony. "Not today, buddy, okay?"

He sighs loudly. "All right."

I feel awful, but I can't let him go in there. The last thing I needed—or he needed—was to get teased because he was older. Kids didn't understand how much their words hurt. God, Anthony didn't understand how hurtful other children could be. I was unsure if that was good or bad. He would be oblivious, but then again, they do say that ignorance is bliss.

"Hey," I say to him. "Why don't we go get that shopping done, huh?"

Nodding, his smile returns. "Okay."

On the way to the store, Anthony asks if we can have the radio on. I flip through the stations and of course find nothing worth listening to. It's mostly just mindless pop music. Or mindless country music if Taylor Swift is playing. I shake my head because I know that Anthony loves this stuff. One day, I'll make him listen to some good music, I resolve.

"Keep it here!" he cries, and my ears are bombarded with some bubbly tune about getting drunk last Friday night.

I cringe. "Do you really like this?" I ask.

"Yeah!"

"Hm."

Similar music plays the rest of the way to the store, and I try not to tear the stereo out of my Volvo. Pulling into the parking lot, I'm quick to turn the radio off.

"Hey! I like that song!"

I roll my eyes. "Do you even know what it's talking about?"

"No…"

"Good." It was all about meeting a guy and wanting to have a one night stand right away. Anthony's mind didn't need polluted by knowing what it was really about.

As I'm opening my door, I take my keys out of the ignition but I hear a sound I can't ignore and look to my left. A man had been opening his door at the same time and hit mine.

He is out of his vehicle in an instant, apologizing profusely. "Wow, man, I'm so sorry, I wasn't paying attention…"

I look at my door, then at his. It looks like just a paint scratch on my end. I see nothing wrong with his door. "It's perfectly all right. Accidents happen," I say.

"Jake!" I hear another voice say. A petite brunette comes around to the front of the rusty truck the guy was in. I guess she was the driver. "What did you do?"

While the man is much larger than the woman, I can see the fear evident in his eyes as he stammers to tell her what happens. "I just…I was distracted…I didn't mean to."

I put him out of his misery and look to the woman. "It was not his fault," I assure her. "I wasn't paying attention while I was opening my door so ours collided."

She lets out a deep breath. "Is there any damage?" There is definitely worry in her brown eyes, despite her calm demeanor.

"Just a little paint scratch," I say dismissively. I shrug. "No big deal."

She nods. "I'll pay for it of course."

I shake my head at her. "No, that's not necessary."

"Daddy, what happened?"

I turn around to see Anthony walking from the other side of the car.

"Just a little accident," I assure him. "Nothing major." I look back at the brunette and repeat. "It's nothing major. I wouldn't ask you to pay for something so silly."

She sighs and then begins digging through her purse. "I still feel like I should pay for it," she mutters. "Even though it was Jake's fault."

"Hey!" he says. "It was an accident!"

"He's right," I reply with a smile. "No harm, no foul."

She pulls out a pen and a scrap piece of paper from her bag and begins to scribble something down. When she finishes, she hands it to me. "That's my name and number, if you decide to let me pay for the damage."

I read it. Bella Swan. "Well, it's not necessary," I inform her, "but thank you for the offer, Bella Swan." I hold my hand out to her. "I'm Edward Cullen. Nice to meet you."

She takes my hand and chuckles. "Well, not under these circumstances."

The moment her hand is in mine, I feel something. An electric current of sorts. At first I thought it was just a shock—those happen very often. However, those are gone in a moment, and this stayed until I let go of her hand.

"I'm Jacob Black," says the man beside her and he gruffly shakes my hand. "I'm really sorry about this. I'm such an idiot someti—"

"It's nothing, really," I tell him and then feel a tug at the hem of my shirt. I look down to see Anthony waiting expectantly. "Oh, right. This is my son, Anthony," I say, ruffling his hair.

"Hi!"

Bella and Jacob both laugh and say hello. Then Bella clears her throat. "Well, I guess we'll be getting out of your hair. I'm really, really sorry about this," she says, pointing at my door.

I wave her off and say for what seems like the millionth time that it is no big deal. We say goodbye, and I watch them walk off toward the store. I turn back to Anthony. "Ready to go in now?"

He nods. "Yep!" He takes my hand and swings it back and forth as we walk.

-x-

Back at home, I put the groceries away. Anthony is in the living room, watching television. As I finish placing things in the cupboard, I pull out the piece of paper Bella gave me. She was crazy if she thought I was really going to let her pay for such a little thing. I smile, thinking back to her flustered look. She was rather attractive, despite the furrow in her brow from worry.

Too bad she has a boyfriend.

Where had that thought come from? Besides, I had no clue if that Jacob was her boyfriend. Not that I would try anything if he wasn't. I didn't know either of them. I shake my head, obviously needing to clear my thoughts, and head out to the living room.

Anthony was glued to the television, which was playing that cartoon with the sponge who lives in a pineapple.

I pick up the remote that is lying haphazardly on the floor alongside a bunch of Lego pieces. Sighing, I pick those up as well, placing them in the case that they came in so no one will step on them. It's happened before and those devilish things really do sting.

Sitting down on the couch, remote in hand, I watch the television. I have never had a problem with this show, the way some parents do. I cannot believe that there are some people who will not allow their children to watch this because it is "inappropriate." It's about a sponge who flips burgers. What's so terrible? Granted, I never could understand how a crab could have a whale for a daughter, but I choose not to overanalyze it. It is a cartoon after all and those are the last things that should be thought about too much. It's just harmless television for children.

As I watch the sponge and his friend, a starfish, jump on and off of fishing hooks, I hear the phone ringing. I get up and go to the kitchen to answer it. "Hello," I say into the receiver.

"Edward! My favorite brother!"

Alice.

"You better hope our older brother doesn't hear you say that," I warn her. "He could tear you to shreds."

My annoying little sister laughs. "Oh, please! Emmett would never hurt me. He loves me too much. Besides, I could take him."

"You could, could you?" I ask with a chuckle. "And how would you manage that?"

"Oh, I have my ways," she says. "I have a secret weapon."

"And what is that?"

"Edward, it's a secret! I can't tell you!"

I laugh loudly. "Right, yes, of course, what was I thinking?" Grinning, I ask, "So is there something you needed?"

"Can't a girl just call her brother to see how he is?"

"Well, sure a girl can do that," I reply. "But you never do. What did you want?"

Alice sighs. "You're right. I did have a reason for calling." She pauses.

"And that is…?"

Then she begins to speak a mile a minute. "I don't know if you've realized, Edward, but school will be starting up pretty soon, and something tells me you haven't gone shopping, you know that a new school year isn't complete without a new wardrobe so I was wondering if you would want me to take Anthony to get new clothes. I am, after all, a master of fashion. You can come along, too, if you want. But you don't have to. I know how you feel about style."

"Alice!" She would have gone on and on for hours if I hadn't stopped her. "When did you want to take him?"

"Tomorrow," she answers promptly. "We'll spend the whole day together. Shop, eat, repeat. And like I said, if you want, you can come, too."

"All right," I tell her.

"Do you mean, 'All right, take my son to the store' or 'All right, I'll come with you'?" she asks.

I close my eyes for a second and can't believe I'm doing this. "All right, I'll come with you."

She squeals. My twenty-six year old adult sister squeals. No wonder our parents still treat her like a kid. "Okay, I'll pick you guys up at six. Tell Anthony I say hi and I love him!"

"Six in the morning?" I ask but she has already hung up. I set the phone down and go back to the living room. Anthony is still sitting in the same place, but he is now holding the remote, flipping through channels.

"Who was on the phone?" he asks.

"Aunt Alice. She's taking us shopping tomorrow morning so you have to be up early," I say. "She says we have to get you ready for school."

His eyes light up. "School?"

"Uh-huh. The first day is in a couple of weeks, and Alice is mad that we haven't gotten you a whole new wardrobe."

"But I don't need one! I like all my clothes now," he whines.

"Well, then you be the one to go against your aunt. I know I won't be," I mutter.

He ignores me and goes back to flipping through channels. He stops on one that is showing a commercial for a movie. He sees colorful outfits and gets distracted.

I don't pay attention to what the upcoming movie is about, but I do hear the name of the starring actress.

I flinch at the name, my hands clench, and I feel myself getting angry.

"Daddy?" Anthony says, turning my way.

I try to relax. "Yes?"

He looks back at the screen for a second, then back to me. "That Tanya Denali is really pretty, isn't she?"


All right. What did you think? Let me know in a review if I should continue this. Thanks for reading! :)